Technology as a Business Tool

Renee Wagner
Vice President, Business Development

As a business leader, do you truly understand how your organization’s technology affects the success of your business? I’ve noticed that executives often see technology as a necessary expense rather than as a tool to help them grow.

As a result, a disconnection emerges between the technology side and the business operations at many companies.

The IT department says it needs more money to improve performance. But the executives are hard pressed to make these investments because they are only seeing and hearing about it in dollars and cents. What if, instead, business leadership insisted on knowing how technology is going to transform the company?

That would mean that you get involved in technology discussions right from the start, and stay engaged in the process throughout. I’m not proposing that a CEO or CFO must become a technology expert. Instead, the goal is to surround yourself with those who are experts, learn how to communicate with them effectively — and most important, ask good questions.

Adapting to this approach takes time, so the need for executive understanding and ongoing involvement in the process is critical to the success of most IT initiatives even before a single dollar is spent.

I would contend that no investment should be made in IT without a clear understanding at the executive level as to how it will benefit the organization. Executives should be asking questions such as:

  • What is the goal of this project?
  • What aspect(s) of our business will benefit from this investment?
  • How will these benefits be managed and measured to ensure that they are producing the desired results?
  • How will this investment make us more competitive in our industry?
  • How will it improve our overall profitability?
  • Who will be accountable for ensuring that the improvements are successful?

Where Companies Fail

One failure area for many businesses is mismatched expectations. The IT staff has its view of what the business should expect to gain, and the executive team has another. When these two visions do not match, it can lead to frustration on both sides, and a hesitation on the part of the executives to make future investments.

Executives should expect the IT team to get them involved early on in the planning process. They should present you with a business case, including facts and projections of the things that matter most to your business. Don’t let your technology staff assume that you don’t get it, or that you don’t care. Transforming a business with technology is exciting, and when technology officers make a strong business case, every executive I know has welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the process of using technology as a business tool.

Another critical success factor is getting the right technology partner involved to help you plan, design and deploy business-transforming solutions. This means a partner that understands both the business and technology aspects and how one impacts the other.

My challenge to you as a business leader is to think about how technology is being used as a tool for growth in your own organization. If you cannot quickly identify how you are using IT to improve and manage your business, we should arrange a conversation about what you think you are getting out of your IT investment, what you would like to get out if it, and whether or not your expectations are matching reality.

Things move fast in today’s technology driven business world, so if you aren’t keeping up with the pace of change, I can promise you that one of your competitors is.

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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.